Creating a Champion

By Fraser Coffeen
Assistant Head of School for Academic and Auxiliary Programs

This year, Ishan Ramrakhiani ‘26 will do something no Canterbury School student has ever done before: he will proudly represent Canterbury on a national level at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. For a Middle School student, surely the nerves of such a momentous occasion must be high.

“Not really,” says Ishan.

Despite making it to new levels of the competition, and despite the attention he has received in the form of Journal Gazette features and more, Ishan remains excited, ready, and not a bit nervous. As he describes it, the competition “will be fun”, so why get nervous?

But don’t for a moment take that relaxed appearance to mean Ishan is not giving the spelling bee his all - far from it. “I study during all my breaks in school like advisory or prep and one to two hours a night at home.” For the earlier stages of the competition, this meant in part working with the large list of possible words Scripps provided. But now that he has been named champion for the Northeast Indiana region and the competition is at the highest levels, there is no list - Ishan must be prepared for any word at all that could come his way.

For Ishan, the preparation for this competition has been years in the making. He first competed in the spelling bee in third grade, when all students took part. After that, he kept on competing for the most simple reason: “I liked it… I like learning new words.”

Teachers who have worked with Ishan are not in the least bit surprised by his success or his level of commitment here. Library Department Chair Debbie Williams has coordinated the spelling bee at Canterbury for many years, and has seen all the work Ishan has put in towards his success.

“Ishan is a remarkably talented speller,” Williams says. “I have watched him compete with grace and poise in both the Canterbury Middle School competitions and in the Allen County Journal Gazette Spelling Bee. He has prepared diligently, investing hours upon hours of his personal time. I am confident that Ishan will be an exceptional Canterbury School representative as he competes nationally in the upcoming Scripps National Spelling Bee rounds.”

While his accomplishments here are truly remarkable, that’s far from the only thing Ishan has accomplished this year. He’s shown his artistic side by excelling in Chamber Orchestra, and his math skills through the Mathcounts competition.

Math teacher and Mathcounts coordinator Kevin Torwelle says, “Ishan has an exceptional mathematical mind. He has been comfortable learning in a group of students a year older than him, and often sets the bar for retention and outside study. In Mathcounts, he has been tackling problems you don’t see in the math classroom. He easily advanced through the chapter and invitational competition and qualified for the highly competitive state level competition.”

State level success in Mathcounts and national level success in the Spelling Bee add up to a rather exceptional year, but Ishan takes it in stride, utilizing his time at Canterbury to focus on what matters most to him, “I like that I can find a place [here] to sit quietly and work.”

As he looks ahead to the future, Ishan is excited about the increased electives High School will offer, particularly in computers and coding (though he does wish the school offered an eSports or culinary arts elective).

On behalf of the entire Canterbury community, we congratulate Ishan for his successes here, and applaud him for his hard work. Thank you for representing Canterbury so well Ishan!